General Surgeon Education and Training

General Surgery is a specialty, and post residency training is SUB specialty training. All General Surgeons are highly trained, highly skilled professionals. Their care places emphasis on the whole patient, thus General Surgeons are leaders of modern multidisciplinary teams and hospitals and health care systems. They share a responsibility to coordinate complex operative care, whether in GS, oncology, transplant, or trauma.

To become a General Surgeon you must:

  • Completion of undergraduate and graduate education (a baccalaureate degree and a medical degree)
  • Completion of a 5-year residency program in general surgery. This includes specialized knowledge of the abdomen; alimentary tract (digestive organs); breast, skin, and soft tissue; comprehensive trauma management; critical care; endocrine system; head and neck; surgical oncology (management of screening, surveillance, surgical therapy, rehabilitation, and follow-up with cancer patients); and vascular (circulatory) system.
  • Residency program requirements differ for each of the surgical specialty areas; for example, thoracic surgery requires 5 years of general surgery training plus 2 years of training in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery.

The path to General Surgery
The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada is the national professional association that oversees the medical education of specialists in Canada. They accredit the university programs that train resident physicians for their specialty practices, and write and administer the demanding examinations that residents must pass to become certified as specialists.

The Royal College also oversees postgraduate medical education. A physician’s credentials must be assessed by the Royal College before he or she is eligible to write an exam to be certified as a specialist.

Assessment routes 

Physicians who practice in Canada follow various training pathways to become specialists. The Royal College has established a number of routes to certification for specialists and subspecialists.
A general surgeon must first complete his or her undergraduate degree in medicine. Following undergraduate training, residency training in an accredited program must be undertaken. General Surgeons will have 5 years of additional training before they can write the Royal College Exams to be certified as a specialist.

Continuing Professional Development

All General Surgeons who are members of the Royal College must participate in The Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Program. The MOC Program is the Royal College’s continuing professional development program for Fellows and health care professionals. Participation in the MOC Program is a requirement for admission and renewal of Fellowship in the Royal College.

The MOC Program supports the lifelong learning needs of Fellows and health care professionals. This means that once practicing as a General Surgeon, ongoing training and assessment is required order to maintain their fellowship in the College.

Useful Links:

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
Maintenance of Certification Program

Association of Faculties of Medicine